Common Tenant Complaints About Landlords
Particularly for first time renters taking those initial steps towards renting your next home can be somewhat of a daunting process. Thankfully in the overwhelming majority of cases your landlord will be on hand to support you through any issues and ensure the tenancy goes as smoothly as possible. However, for the unfortunate few that have a soured relationship with their landlord, or that they are not enacting their legal duties in regards to the tenancy renters will need to know how to file a complaint against a landlord and if they will need to take legal action against the landlord.
My Landlord Won’t Do Any Repairs
Upon the signing of the tenancy agreement the landlord of the rental property undertakes a duty of care towards the tenants, ensuring the property that is being let out is fit for human habitation. As can be expected the tenants do bear some responsibility regarding the maintenance of the property. Alongside conducting themselves in a “tenant like manner”, carrying out small repairs or cleaning duties throughout the property, they are also obligated to report any needed repairs to the owner. It goes without saying that whilst a landlord is legally responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the rental property, this cannot be upheld if they are not aware of the work needed to be carried out, making the duty of a tenant to report any damages all the more essential, as if left unattended these issues could easily lead so more extensive work and a larger bill for the landlord.
If a landlord is proving to be negligent towards their legal requirement to ensure the safety of the property, it is essential that the occupants thoroughly document the extent of any damage to the property’s structure or contents. As mentioned the tenants must try and establish communication with their landlord regarding nay repair work that needs to be carried out. In the case that the owner of the rental property does not respond to any of your attempts to make them aware of the issues, all emails and texts to your landlord must be documented, alongside the details of the repair work.
When contacting the landlord tenants should not only outline the necessary work, but provide the landlord with a convenient time in which the remedial work can be conducted whilst reminding them of their obligation to attend to these matters.
If all else fails the tenant is able to pursue legal proceedings against the landlord, resulting in the property owner being issued with an order for specific performance. If granted by the courts this order will legally compel the landlord to attend to any repairs works that need to be conducted throughout the rental property. Alternatively the occupants of the rental property could go through the court system to be granted with a declaration permitting them to carry out any necessary repairs to the rental on behalf of the landlord, with the associated costs being deducted from future rental payments.
It is also possible that if the tenants take legal action against their landlord they could be awarded significant amounts of compensation. The courts would take into account any loss of enjoyment, injury, inconvenience or discomfort the tenants have experienced during the tenancy as a result of the damages and landlord’s neglect. The court may also award the tenants with special damages, compensating them for any costs they may have incurred in trying to rectify the issues themselves, alongside any damage to their personal belongings and the costs of sourcing alternate accommodation for an extended period. In regards to the specific amount that would be awarded, the courts will dictate the level of compensation the tenant will receive after assessing the extent of the necessary work to the rental property and if this reluctance to address the issues resulted in a deterioration in the occupants health.
Whilst it is understandable to frustration tenants would feel if their landlord is neglecting their duty to maintain your rental property, but withholding any due rental payments is not a viable solution. This would also be considered a breach of the tenancy agreement and could risk the landlord commencing eviction proceedings against the tenant, or continuing to neglect the needed remedial work.
What Can I Do if My Landlord Refuses to Return My Deposit?
Typically, when renting a tenant will be required to provide their landlord with two deposits, the holding deposit and tenancy, or security deposit. The holding deposit will be taken before the tenant has signed the tenancy agreement with the landlord and in effect “reserves” the rental opportunity for them. Once the holding deposit is paid the landlord will be legally required to take the property off the market and will commence drafting the tenancy agreement for both parties to sign. Providing that the tenancy agreement proceeds undisturbed the landlord will return this amount to the tenant in the form of a deduction from their first months’ rent. However, if the tenant decides not to proceed with the tenancy agreement and not rent out the property, the landlord us entitled to keep the taken amount as compensation for the time the property was unavailable to other prospective renters.
Alongside this the tenant will typically be required to pay the landlord a tenancy deposit. This amount will be no more than five weeks rent in most cases and whilst it is not a legal requirement that this is taken, it is highly uncommon that a landlord will not request a tenancy deposit is paid. At the end of the tenancies fixed term the landlord or letting agents will conduct an inspection of the property to ensure that the tenant has upheld their obligation to return the rental property in the same condition it was let out in at the start of the tenancy period. Deductions will be made from the amount being returned to the tenant where additional damage is found to the rental in order to help the landlord cover the cost of needed repairs or replacing any furnishings and appliances. Once the amount that should be returned is settled upon it should be returned to the tenant within ten days.
If at this time the landlord fails to respond to any requests to return the amount taken for the tenancy deposit, provident the deposit has been protected in a government approved custodial style scheme, the tenant can commence a “single claim”. This process can only be commence after two weeks has passed since the initial request to have the deposit returned and will require the tenant to complete a statutory declaration form. If after another two weeks the landlord fails to establish contact with the deposit protection scheme or the tenant, the custodial scheme will release the fund to the occupant. If however, the landlord does respond to any requests to return the tenancy deposit during the time, the case will be handled by the scheme’s dispute resolution service.
If however, the landlord has protected the tenancy deposit in an insurance based scheme the tenant will be required to obtain a court order to have the appropriate amount returned. Once this has been granted the tenant can issue the order to the protection scheme to have the money repaid.
My Landlord Keeps Turning up Unannounced
Despite the obvious attachment a landlord will have with their buy to let property, they must remember that upon the signing of the tenancy agreement possession of the property has been transferred to the occupants. Naturally a landlord will want to take measures to safeguard their buy to let investment and aside from taking a tenancy deposit from each of the residents, will likely conduct routine inspections throughout the fixed period of the tenancy. Regardless of these pure intentions landlords must remember that the rental property is someone’s home and that tenants are legally empowered to have “quiet enjoyment” of a rental property. This means that over the course of the tenancy the tenants can expect to have a rental experience that is free from consistent interruption from the landlord.
With this in mind if a landlord wished to enter a rental property they must first obtain permission from the occupants. Each request made by the landlord must give the tenants ample notice, whilst clearly detailing why the landlord, letting agent or their representatives will need to gain access to the rental, with the meeting also taking place at a mutually convenient time. The tenants will need to approve such a request at least 24 hours before the proposed visit and would be justified to refuse their landlord entry if this notice was not provided. Whilst simply issuing the tenants with a notice doesn’t permit the landlord to enter the property, in most cases rejections will be made as the requested time is not suitable and must be rearranged.
If the issue persists and the tenants feel that the actions of the landlord to be harassment, if they feel endangered they would be justified in changing the locks to the rental property, without being in breach of their tenancy agreement for modifying a major component of the property without the permission of the owner.
When Can a Landlord Increase My Rent?
To the elation of renters everywhere landlords cannot simply increase the amount of rent their tenants are required to pay as and when they see fit. In most cases the occupants of the rental property will be on an assured shorthold tenancy that allows them to let out the accommodation for a fixed period of time. In these assured shorthold tenancies the landlord is able to increase the rent providing that they have included a rent review clause within the terms of the signed tenancy agreement. In an effort to uphold full clarity for the tenant surrounding their financial obligation that they will be undertaking throughout the tenancy, this rent review clause will clearly establish when the increase in rent will take place, the amount of notice the tenant will receive prior to the amount they pay going up.
However, in the absence of a rent review clause the landlord must reach an agreement with their tenants before they are able to increase the amount of rent they pay. This will leave the landlord with no alternative but to try and review the rent at the close of the tenancies fixed term.
With this being said a landlord may be able to evoke a section 13 notice to raise the rental obligation of their tenants. This does not come without restrictions as rental property owners will only be able to carry out a section 13 notice once each year. Typically in this situation the tenants should expect to receive at least six months’ notice before the section 13 is implemented, however in the case of a monthly or weekly rental agreement, only a monthly notice is required to be given. The occupants of the rental property are able to appeal this move from the landlord by challenging the rent increase brought about by the section 13 notice in a court, however during this time they will still be bound to make their usual rental commitments.
Regardless of the type of tenancy the tenant hold with the landlord or how long they have been residing in the property, the landlord is not able to increase the rent by an exorbitant amount an any increase must be in line with a realistic amount; taking into account prices of other rentals in the area and the size of the rental opportunity being offered.
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February 12, 2021
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